The World Falls Away

It feels like I have barely stopped moving since Tuesday evening when we brought our little Bear home. All the things happening outside of my home have fallen away as I focus on trying to find the right balance and rhythm to everyday life again. The fact that holidays are approaching in mere days is inconceivable.

I’m woefully behind in all previous planning as I work on savoring these puppy days. On Wednesday Bear became aware of what a leash is and we learned that one of the best ways to teach him is to have Moose lead the way. Now being on a leash is almost entirely about keeping up with his big brother! On Thursday, he discovered pine cones and had his first bath. On Friday, he found out he could play with sticks. Today he learned how much fun a tennis ball can be and went for a walk on his first trail hike and I am still picking the little burs out of his long coat.

As I tried to explain to my mom on the phone, having a 7 week old puppy in the house is kind of like having a toddler and an infant rolled into one. The sweet trust and innocence makes your heart melt over and over again, but there is also that unstoppable curiosity. And it is so much fun to watch him learn about the world, especially how much he looks to Moose for guidance and how Moose tries to teach the little dude. This, you see, is how you help make dinner…

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And this is how you look super pathetic and tiny when Mom is making dinner…

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And this is  how you sleep in Mom & Dad’s bed…

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Yes, since we expect Bear to be over 100lbs and Moose is 90lbs, this will eventually be a space issue, but for now it brings Bear much security and us some much needed rest. We will cross the space issue bridge when the time comes.

Aside from all-things-dog, very little has been happening. We did our best to finish up some pre-holiday school goals. A friend came over and we decorated Christmas cookies. That was chaos one step from mayhem, but so much fun. I finished knitting a hat…

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This is a Rikke Hat (a free Ravelry download) and knit in my handspun yarn from Three Water’s Farm’s August installment of their Top of the Month Club.

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I am very happy with the yarn — it just knit up so nicely!

I was curious about how the brim would be in garter with a smaller needle, but without ribbing and I’m happy to report the fit is great.

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Obviously I made the slouchy version — I just find it’s easier with my longer hair knowing I get a messy bun in there if I need to. I have enough yarn on there to put a pom on, but I don’t think I’m going to bother. I like it as is.

With supervision, I also started another hat…

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I tried Judy Marples’ Knit Night Hat originally, but wasn’t a fan of how it was knitting up in the yarn, so I went searching and found Clare Devine’s Acai hat pattern. It’s a much better fit for the yarn!

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It has a 2 round repeat which is about as good as it gets when you are picking it up and setting it down constantly.

I also started a pair of socks in this Kickapoo Sock Yarn that was a gift from a good friend…

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The colorway is called Blue Heron and it’s one of the prettiest colorways and nicest sock yarns I’ve knit. Obviously I’m not super far, but it’s a start! And sharing the beginning here has reminded me that I finished a pair of socks a couple weeks ago! I’ve worn them a couple times, but I will try to snap some photographs after the holiday.

Speaking of which, if I don’t get a chance to log on and write before next week, I want to wish you all a very heartfelt Happy Holidays! Whatever holidays you celebrate, may they warm your heart, bring a smile to your face. When all is said and done, may you rest as soundly and contentedly as a 7 week old puppy after his first trail hike. And maybe even allow yourself let the rest of the world fall away for a little while to enjoy the simple, fleeting pleasures that make up this life.

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From all of mine, to you and yours — Happy Holidays!!!

 

 

 

O, Transience!

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I wanted to share this little blast from the past today because last week this little peanut turned 11. Where does the time go?! My parents came into town for the last half of the week to celebrate and we did it up right with some good quality family time and a cake from which we are still recovering…

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My girl — who in her mind is definitely the female version of Owen Grady, velociraptor wrangler of Jurassic World — created it. In case it’s not clear, she insisted we carve the cake into a hill-like shape and that it must have a “water feature” complete with truffle rocks. The gummy bears, of course, are the victims of this fierce predator and the red frosting and sprinkles, the carnage. It is weird that something so gruesome is also literally so insanely sweet. And I don’t care what anyone says, gummy bears should not be on a frosted cake, but I declined to tell the cake artist that. It was her day and her cake, after all.

Like birthdays, the march of time is relentless in its journey forward toward winter. Most of the leaves are down now and the temps have cooled off considerably. This is the time when most people start to skip their walks and hikes and stay cozy indoors, but not us! As is a family motto, “There is no bad weather, just poor clothing choices!”

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We are truly spoiled where we are that there is no shortage of trails to explore and most of the time we get them to ourselves. That means, plenty of time and space to examine the world around us.

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In all it’s weird…

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And wonderful glory, changing daily before our eyes. Even the greyest of days, even when it’s 40 degrees and spitting cold rain…

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There’s so much to see and enjoy. Trust me, it may look like a barren field, but there are loads of wonders out there!

At home, I’ve started exploring a new avenue, too…

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The support spindle! Isn’t this a pretty one?

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It’s a spalted maple “acorn” from Maine Fiber Tools. I’m still 100% thumbs when trying to use it, but I’ll keep at it. I’ll crack the code someday!

When not fumbling with the support spindle, I’ve been working on a spin for my mom…

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She was looking for something black for a neutral scarf and we found some battlings, procured from an LYS that has since shuttered its doors and a dyer that no longer dyes wool. I don’t know why, but it seems like another quiet reminder of the passing of time, how things change and evolve on all levels of this world.

I’ve also picked up a sock project that’s been on the back burner, simmering since July. I’ve knit on it here and there over the months and then I finished all the way to the last stitches on the toe a couple weeks ago… and couldn’t find my darning needle! The shame and horror!

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Alas, I tracked it down (finally), finished the toe, wove in my ends and started sock #2.

As always, the sock knit is an essential road trip must-have, so it rode along with me yesterday when we took the kiddos up to the Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum for their annual Birds in Art Exhibit.

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As a former student of art history, I’m always amazed how the lingo rushes back when you stick me in an art museum. This exhibition we find particularly good for our family because just like art helped me to better understand history way back when, the birds are an easy access point into viewing art for our kids.

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We are able to discuss the different media and subject matter and how to read the labels on the works of art. The hands-on exhibits provided by the museum are, of course, a favorite for our very hands-on crew. I certainly appreciated that they had a silk screening set-up out for touching since trying to explain to an 11-year-old what “a giant squeegee-like thing” is when describing silk screening is not super effective without a visual. So much for technical art lingo!

In any case, outside the museum, well, autumn was still whispering in some places.

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And this theme of time passing, kept presenting itself; from my girl’s birthday, to the seasons, to using familiar and learning new skills in my craft. It’s so important, the ebb and flow of all things, always on display, always evolving from one iteration to the next and setting us in motion.

O, transience! I am reminded to look for and celebrate the variance within the expected, to let go and welcome in what looks different than that to which I’ve grown accustomed, and to honor each changing moment as a step in this grand journey.

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A Box Full of Memories

As the leaves are past peak here and the temperatures feel mostly down for good, it’s become apparent that I needed to re-organize the cedar chest where I keep most of my handknits. I did not take a “before” picture, but to know what it looked like all you have to do is imagine a heap of handknits wadded together in a ball and smooshed down — that was about it!

As I started pulling stuff out and tossing it into heaps with like articles…

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I realized that I don’t just have a wealth of handknits, I have a box full of memories at the foot of my bed.

Folding sweaters and pairing socks and separating out big shawls from scarves from lace shawls, I was reminded of the history of each piece. And I thought, what a sweet nostalgia-inducing collection I have here at my fingertips.

There’s a scarf I crocheted for Mr. Knitting Sarah before our kids were born. I bought the yarn back in Madison when I was still working in the area.

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Somwhere I have a picture of Mr. KS wearing it in a McDonald’s playland one winter day having taken our toddler babes to run some energy off.

There’s the first shawl I ever knit as a shop sample when I took on teaching knitting…

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Boneyard Shawl by Stephen West made in Malabrigo Silky Merino. This was way back when I had to print a Stephen West pattern from a blog he posted, I think, because he was not yet publishing patterns.

And there is the last item I knitted as a knitting instructor…

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The Carter Cardigan by Laura Chau knit in Lamb’s Pride Worsted. I never got to teach the class, but it was and still is an amazing sweater!

There’s this Quaker Ridge Shawlette by Susan B. Anderson

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I knit it in Madelinetosh Pashmina. When I made this one, I remember thinking it was the height of luxury as it is so soft and cozy and the colors were just a beachy dream to me.

There’s this little kerchief I knit in the skein of qiviut that Mr. KS gave me as a gift one holiday…

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The pattern was kind of a train wreck, but I muddled through and it’s still a favorite piece as it was such a thoughtful gift.

There’s this little sweater I knit as a shop sample and then my daughter later got to wear…

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I always meant to gift this to another little girl, but I’ve never gotten around to it.

There’s Deco by Kate Davies

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I knit this as knitalong with a friend shortly after I left teaching. I made it five years ago and it’s probably the best made sweater I’ve knitted. I like to think it was the excellent company during the process!

There’s my most worn sweater — Agnes in Quince & Co Puffin.

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It looks pretty rough and could use a spin with the Gleener to clean up the lint, but in its almost 3 years of life, it’s been on almost every wintry outdoor adventure I’ve been on. That is a lot of wear and oh, how I am thankful for this sweater!

There’s my second Three Waters Farm knit (the first I gifted away)…

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Samothrace Wings in Broken Pavement that taught me what a true joy it was to knit with handspun.

And my first handspun sweater…

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A Featherweight Cardigan in Birds in the Holly from Three Waters Farm, which is still a layering favorite.

And there’s this little handspun shawl knit with a friend’s handspun after she said, “Let’s do an exchange.”

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It’s a Pebble Beach Shawl in the colorway Pebble.

 

There’s my first pair of socks for the Socks with Sarah KAL

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Still in use almost 5 years later.

And there’s my first 100% handspun socks

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Oh, the fit on these is divine. My heart still flutters a bit when I put them on.

And then there’s the knit where it all started, my very first handknit…

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Before Ravelry, before my kids, before we bought our first house, knit in our last apartment in Madison. A simple custom cardigan knit in Lamb’s Pride Bulky so it is basically like wearing a furnace, I’ve never actually worn it anywhere as my first teacher didn’t really teach me about gauge… well, you know how that story ends. Despite the ill-fit, I’ve not yet had the heart to get rid of it.

Along with these memories are a bunch of other socks and sweaters and scarves and shawls, each with their own story. And isn’t that just the best part of handknits — they each hold a place in time and in our hearts. Tidying up my cedar chest quickly turned from chore to a stroll down memory lane. Not a bad way to spend a few minutes this Monday morning, tidying up a chest to make it easier to use my handknits and sifting through a box full of memories.

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Meet Annie, My Sheep

This year for Christmas, I got a rather unexpected gift. I opened a box and found this delicious Scotch whiskey, called Sheep Dip. Apparently back in the day, shepherds and farmers used to distill Scotch and place it in barrels labeled ‘Sheep Dip.’ Sheep dip was a insecticide and fungicide used to protect sheep from lice, ticks, and other unsavory external parasites. By putting the Scotch whiskey in these mislabeled barrels they could avoid paying taxes on the whiskey when the tax man came around.windridgeAll I can say is it is delicious. I am not much of a drinker, but in the summer I sometimes enjoy a gin & tonic and in winter I will indulge occasionally in a dry red wine or scotch. This Sheep Dip is quite good and just in time for another predicted cold snap later this week. Alongside the Sheep Dip was a letter. The letter told me all about the sheep in the photo, Kelsey’s lamb, who my husband had adopted for me for the year!

This little lamb was born on March 10th of this year at her home, Windridge Fiber Farm located in Southwestern Wisconsin. This farm has a number of really neat programs including my gift of the Adopt-A-Sheep program in which you get a set of cards with a photo of your sheep, updates throughout the year, the opportunity to inquire about the sheep & the farm, and the fleece of your sheep for that year. You can even make an appointment to visit the farm & meet your sheep! The website says the program was developed with people in mind who would love to have a sheep of their own, but cannot. What a fun opportunity!

“My” sheep is a mixed breed, but largely CVM. I had never heard of a CVM before, so in case you haven’t either that stands for California Variegated Mutant. This wool is known for being very soft and for its beautiful bounty of color variation. For reasons unknown, my little lamb was orphaned by her mum, but the note said she readily took to her bottle feedings and even starting ‘stealing’ milk from other ewes. The farmer said she is definitely a smart little lamb!

Of course I was excited about the prospect of visiting the farm, about spinning wool from ‘my own’ sheep and then knitting with it, but there was a more pressing issue: I had to name her! My husband and I talked about it probably more than he had hoped on Christmas Day. I found another photo of her on the farm’s website…

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Photo courtesy of Windridge Fiber Farm.

And I have to say, I was a little overwhelmed by the idea at first, but I instantly fell in love with those little sock on her back legs.  My husband and I talked and bounced ideas off of each other and finally landed on ‘Annie.’ Named for the little orphan in the musical who was quick as a whip and a little mischievous, as soon as my husband suggested it I knew that was it. I feel a little bad naming a creature I’ve never met, but I emailed the farm & made the name suggestion and asked a few questions. Being a first time sheep adopter, I had a bunch.

I heard back from Tami at the farm this morning and she graciously answered all my questions about Annie’s fleece, how much wool to expect, where she will take the wool to be cleaned & carded (you can get the raw fleece or for an extra charge they’ll take it to be cleaned and carded for you), and how their donkey protects the sheep from coyotes. You know, all the important details. As an aside, she said that Annie actually just arrived back at the farm after spending a few days at a local church where she and another sheep, Cuddles, participated in a live nativity. That image makes me just love this sheep all the more.

This gift will definitely be a year-long adventure to which I’m very much looking forward. While I’m at the very start, I’d like to point out that the farm does still have sheep available in the Adopt-A-Sheep program, so if you have any interest in joining me in this little journey I would love the company! Windridge Fiber Farm also sells rovings, lock wool, and raw fleeces — just fill out the contact form on the website if you are interested and looking for more information.

As excited as I am to have my adopted sheep, perhaps most endearing program to me is Sponsor-A-Sheep. For a small fee, you can sponsor a sheep that is in ‘retirement’ and help allow her to live out her days on the farm with her daughters, granddaughters and great-granddaughters. Annie’s mum, Kelsey is one such sheep..

Kelsey is the sheep on the left — Photo courtesy of Windridge Fiber Farm.

… along with a number of others, some of whom are as aged as 14years-old. I just love the image of this multi-generational herd living the good life in the rolling hills and woods of their Southwestern Wisconsin farm guarded by their faithful donkey, Clementine.

This is probably as close as I’ll ever get to having my own sheep and I just cannot wait to share this journey with you. For now, I’ve hung Annie’s photo on the fridge in our kitchen so while she may be happily meandering the hills and valleys of her home with her herd, I’ll be thinking about her — about the day we get to meet, about how much my kids will love to see her, and about the wonderful spinning and knitting wool that she will provide for me. What a wonderful gift, indeed.

Yarn for a Snake

I had hoped to complete a more substantial post today, but life happened and the day just got away from me. Instead, I have a single photo for you.

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After a rough day at school, my son asked if today could be the day he picks yarn for his new knitting project. I, of course, obliged – he’s been waiting patiently since Monday evening for us to have time. Once I get the head done for him (he’s not quite ready for increasing & decreasing), he will be knitting a toy snake. I find it pretty sweet that he picked the same colors of his actual pet snake.

So tomorrow, I’m going to finish the post I meant to complete today. I’ll knit a bit on my sock. And hopefully, I will knit a toy snake head.

Life may be busy, but it is never dull.